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Is there a difference in the "nature" of the steam being produced by the steamers in the espresso machines?

I have a decent espresso machine, but apparently even a professional barista who I know can't make the foam needed for cappuccino art - so I was wondering if professional espresso machines produce a steam that is different in nature compared to home ones (at least, midrange ones).

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Is your question regarding the ability to make the froth that allows foam art? – Kristina Lopez Jan 1 '13 at 17:33
yes! (filler filler) – Marcus Jan 1 '13 at 19:37
up vote 7 down vote accepted

There are two major differences between frothing with a home machine versus a professional machine.

1- A professional machine will have hotter and more forceful steam.
2- A home machine will often have a "froth assistor" on the wand.

The composition of the steam, though, should be the same and you should be able to create a decent approximation of the correct kind of foam for latte art with a mid-range home machine.

There's a very nice tutorial about halfway down this page on CoffeeGeek.

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I think it will also have more consistent steam flow (which is a consequence of of the hotter temperature of the boiler); in my machine, the steam flow is not continuous, which I think contributes to creating larger bubbles in the milk. – Marcus May 12 '15 at 8:26

I'd say from my experience that most espresso machines cant really do anything good in term of milk froth. I mean, the quality is not bad, but not good either. I personally own the Aeroccino milk froth plus model and it does wonder for me.

If you want to check out for other models, there is a great list right there about the best milk frother on the market.If you plan on making latte art and stuff like that, I strongly recommend a good milk frother. Else, it is not mandatory.

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